From Creative to Digital: Agency 2.0

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From Creative to Digital: Agency 2.0

The rise of automated digital technologies has done a lot of interesting things for the web and for innovators with limited resources. Things like digital portfolios, eCommerce platforms, and fully functional websites are approaching the realm of complete automation (they're not quite there yet) if that's the route you choose, and for some, it's a reasonable one indeed. But automation has a reputation for coming at a price, and in the case of creative agencies that price was an ultimatum: evolve rapidly, or join your fellows at the bottom of the proverbial sea.

The result was a rewrite of agency DNA. Creative agencies, who engineered advertising campaigns, brand designs, and general consultations (ultimately chasing down the bottom dollar) ceased to exist. From the rubble rose the professionals who were savvy digital specialists, inbound marketing experts, and skilled web developers. This was the dawn of the reign of digital agencies, whose prerogatives were to deviate from templates and formulas, to make an enemy of the generic, and to provide solutions that simply couldn't be automated.

What automation came equipped with was something potentially unexpected: creativity. Artists, writers, designers, and creatives of just about every type could create a digital space of any size that suited them, and showcase their marketing pitches, resumés, advertisements, even their products. With integrated eCommerce functionality, they could even make a living. The results these systems churned out were no longer ugly - instead, they were designed to imitate the beauties that creative agencies had spent so much of their time building to begin with. With beauty being sold on the cheap, the pendulum swung and the value migrated not to function, but to digital visibility.

Things have a funny way of coming full circle, and in the end it all came back to visibility. The ticket, is that the definition of visibility had changed slightly. Google's status as gatekeeper of search results and their affection for the modern, cutting edge 'web experience' (not to be mistaken with standalone 'website') meant that users had grown accustomed to a digital immersion that was connected and intuitive. Sign in once, scale to size, open on every platform and answer the right questions became requisites of positive visibility, and templates were far from caught up. It meant custom coding on grand projects, burning the midnight oil, and scaling in just about every direction that contracting could allow for. In the process, It made the agencies flexible and lean.

The key word became 'custom', which was no longer exclusive to crafting or coding a product from scratch. Instead, custom came to mean the flexible integration of different systems, bridging and binding the tried and true platforms that users were using on a global scale. The more bridges you had, the more people you had access to - and that access had come to be the luxury resource that companies of every size would pay a pretty penny for. Sellers, buyers, enthusiasts, readers; everyone was already watching, the trick was getting them to watch you. Responsive design became a standard demand, and terms like SEO, Analytics, content, and viral got a lot heavier.

Once the changes took hold you might be surprised to hear that this was a very exciting time for the creative minds working at agencies. Execution became the product and the product became the means to execute. Seasoned experts and young professionals were moving at a reinvigorated pace to gain traction, innovate, and create connected systems that would drive inbound leads, increase visibility, and bring digital connectivity to the forefront of every market. It created an atmosphere for the innovators and the brilliant minds to thrive. There were no longer final products to showcase, there were living networks at play that were all thriving and funnelling the right resources to the businesses that had invested in them.

Fast forward to the present and, to this day, I'm proud to work at an agency. The challenge of staying sharp and informed while remaining agile keeps the pressure to a constructive high. I'm bridging products and people in ways that go way beyond the design phase, and in doing so I'm creating opportunities for businesses that simply weren't there before. It's these integrations, and the strategies on how to execute on them that automated products just can't contend with right now. When they do, you can bet your bottom dollar that the resilient minds putting in long hours at agency desks will be sprinting ahead to the next big thing.